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Free Study Guide - The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

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This opening chapter acts as a prologue and foreshadowing of a hoped for miracle. The narrator is an eighty year-old man who says he hasn’t been warm since George Bush has been President! However, the cold also seems to be internal and has been eighty years in the making.

He explains his life as a blue chip stock: fairly stable, more ups than downs, and gradually trending upward with time. He also insists that he is nothing special, just a common man with common thoughts. However, even though there are no monuments dedicated to him, and his name will eventually be forgotten, he is unique in that he has loved another with all his heart and soul and that has always been enough.

He goes on to describe his story as both a romance and a tragedy which has involved a great deal of his life and the path he chose to follow. He has no complaints about this path and believes that it has always been the right one. Time, unfortunately, hasn’t made it easy for him to stay on course on this path. It has become strewn with rocks and gravel accumulated over a lifetime. He is neither strong nor healthy now, an old party balloon which is listless, spongy, and growing softer over time.

The narrator then looks at his watch and realizes it’s time to go. He picks up a notebook from his desk on his way out the door, a notebook that he has read a hundred times. He begins his walk down the tiled hallway off of which are rooms filled with people alone but for the sound of the television. He hears the muffled sounds of crying in the distance and he knows exactly who is making the sounds. The nurses exchange greetings with him, and he hears them whisper as he passes, “There he goes again. I hope it turns out well.” They say nothing directly to him, probably because they fear it would hurt him to talk about it.

When he reaches his destination, he speaks briefly to two others in the room, asking about children, schools, and vacations. They finish dressing her, the one who has been crying, and he knows once they leave it will be better, because the excitement of mornings always upsets her. He sits in the same chair he always sits in, and for just a second, he stares at her. He knows he is a stranger to her. He takes a moment, also, to say a prayer that God will give him the strength he needs, and he observes to himself that once he has gone, he will have a whole list of questions for God to answer.

The narrator sits back, puts on his glasses, and opens the notebook. Just like always, he wonders for a moment if “it will happen today.” He thinks to himself that it really doesn’t matter if it does, because deep down, it’s the possibility that keeps him going, not the guarantee. He knows that the odds, and science, are against him, but he is also left with the “belief that miracles, no matter how inexplicable or unbelievable, are real and can occur without regard to the natural order of things.” He reads to her from the notebook every day and hopes that the miracle that has come to dominate his life will happen.


This entire chapter is a giant example of foreshadowing. We are introduced to an unnamed man who seems to live in a nursing home. He reads everyday to a woman who thinks he is a stranger and he reads to her from an old notebook which he hopes will create a miracle. It is obvious that the woman he reads to may be a victim of dementia or Alzheimer’s and yet he continues to read and wait for the miracle (which probably is the hope that she will recognize him one more time). All of this sets us up for the notebook.


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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Notebook". . 09 May 2017